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Battling back the scammers: Six steps the elderly can take to avoid being fraud victims

Scammers often build relationships with seniors and then coerce them out of money, so make sure to keep regular contact with elderly relatives and be alert for any changes in behaviour.

According to NPR.org, there are currently close to 54 million Americans age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that number is expected to rise to 95 million by 2060. Source- OSTFlorida, CC SA 3.0.
According to NPR.org, there are currently close to 54 million Americans age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that number is expected to rise to 95 million by 2060. Source- OSTFlorida, CC SA 3.0.

In 2021 it has been estimated that senior citizens in the U.S. lost over $1.7 billion at the hands of scammers. This very high figure singularly demonstrates the importance of preventing what the finance industry refers to as ‘elder fraud’. In the U.K., according to a report by Age UK, 43 percent of people aged 65 and over, which is almost five million people, believe they have been targeted by scammers

One such company that has focused on assessing the impact of elder fraud is Proxyrack. The firm has revealed to Digital Journal six key tips to help minimise the risk of elder fraud and the steps that can be taken.

Examples of elder fraud include romance scams and lottery and sweepstakes scams. Some measures that can be taken include:

Share personal information with care

Online and telephone phishing scams frequently target senior citizens, encouraging them to hand over personal information. Encourage elderly relatives to always consult with you or another trusted person before giving any personal or financial information to a stranger.

Be aware of current scams

Digital scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and adaptable, often capitalizing on current affairs to trick unsuspecting victims, for example grandparent and prescription scams. Make sure to check the news regularly to keep up to date with cybercrime trends and warn your elderly relatives about these types of scams and how to spot them.

Set up credit monitoring protection

The easiest way to protect yourself or your loved one’s from elder fraud is to sign up for credit monitoring. Credit monitoring services can monitor statements and will alert you of any suspicious or fraudulent activity. This is particularly useful to protect against Identity Theft fraud which disproportionately targets senior citizens.

Spot the signs of email scams

Email scams are one of the most common types of elder fraud, so ensure that elderly relatives are able to spot the key signs. Advise elderly relatives not to click on any attachments or links from emails in their spam inbox and to check if the sender’s email address matches the company they are claiming to be from. Further, urge them to be cautious of emails with bad grammar and spelling.

Keep open communication with elderly relatives

Scammers often build relationships with seniors and then coerce them out of money, so make sure to keep regular contact with elderly relatives and be alert for any changes in behaviour.

Remove contacts from call lists

Senior citizens report that scammers most commonly contact them by phone, with scammers often finding phone numbers from telemarketing lists. You can remove a number from these lists by signing up for the National Do Not Call registry, which will reduce the likelihood of elder fraud.

As more seniors embrace technology, it becomes increasingly important that measures are put in place to help to protect this section of the community.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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